IS GOD THE AUTHOR OF CONFUSION?
The intent of my writings is to make known to the unsuspecting that faith in God and faith in the Bible are not one and the same; that righteousness before God is not a matter of religion or belief, but is being righteous towards others. I believe that in making the contradictions between Galatians and Acts known to the unsuspecting, some might see that faith in God should not rest upon the claims of men, but in God alone! And thereby learn that although there may be certain inspired truths in the Bible, it is by no means the very "Word of God".
My argument regarding contradictions between Galatians and Acts is composed of three parts. It should be considered in its entirety, for it is the preponderance of the verifiable evidence that is in the three parts that upholds my argument. It only requires proof of a single contradiction or a single absurdity in the Bible to disprove the claim of the self-called that the Bible is God's infallible word.
The Law and Test of Truth
"At the base of all human knowledge and judgment there are three simple rules known as the "three primary laws of thought." Of these the third in order is this simple proposition, on which all valid judgment depends: "Of two contradictories, one must be false." Both of the contradictories may be false; but one must be false inevitably. If one person says of an object: "It is white," and another says: "It is black," one or the other statement must of necessity be false. Of course both may be false, as the object may be red or blue or vari-colored; but in any event, one or the other statement must be false, for it cannot be both. This is a fundamental law of thought or correct judgment, or of truth.
The other principle, somewhat complementary, is a rule of law. Every judge declares it to his juries as the law of every jury case on trial, for this ancient maxim is the law in every court to-day.
As a Latin maxim it is: "Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus"-that is, "false in one thing, false in all things." Not necessarily so as to the whole; for one part of the testimony of a witness, or of anything said or written, may be false or mistaken while the remainder may be quite true and correct. The maxim means, as the court always explains to the jury, merely that if the jury believes that a witness "knowingly or wilfully has testified falsely as to any material fact" in his testimony, they are at liberty to disbelieve him entirely and to reject all of his testimony as false. The reason is evident; for if a person orally or in his document or book says one thing which is detected as false; everything else which he says or writes is at once thrown into doubt, and unless otherwise corroborated, may well be considered to be all erroneous or false. Often it is impossible to know with certainty what things, if any, may possibly be true; all are tainted and discredited by the parts shown to be false. This is peculiarly true with respect to the Scriptures, said to be in totality inspired and true: if some parts are proved false, the whole is discredited."
"If we find that the "Word of God" tells the same story in two or more totally different and contradictory ways, or that one inspired writer is "moved by the Holy Ghost" of Yahveh to tell his tale one way, and another inspired writer is moved to tell it in another way, totally different and contradictory in the essence of the alleged facts of the same event, we are forced to know and confess that one or the other record at least is wanting in God's inspiration of truth and is inevitably false. This being so, and there being no possible way of determining which version is the false and which may not be, both must be rejected as equally false, or equally uninspired and incredible; and in either event, the theory of inerrant inspiration and of the revealed truth of the "Word of God" is irreparably destroyed." From: Is It God's Word? By Joseph Wheless
Paul's conversion in Galatians
Galatians 1:20"the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not."
In Galatians, Paul says the revelation that led to his conversion came from God, and it is self-evident that he understood its meaning. He also clearly states that immediately after the revelation he did not confer with anyone, but went away into Arabia. Yet in Acts the revelation came not from God, but from Jesus. And the Paul of Acts isn't just dumbfounded by the revelation, but is made helplessly blind because of it. And it claims that a voice in the revelation tells Paul to go into Damascus and there he would be told the meaning of the revelation. And that the men who were traveling with him had to lead him by the hand into Damascus, where after being baptized by a man who tells him the meaning of the revelation his sight is restored. Not only does Acts make Paul needful of conferring with flesh and blood to learn the meaning of the revelation, it doesn't have him going to Arabia after the revelation, but has him remain in Damascus until he is forced to escape and flee to Jerusalem.
Confounding the Confused
To try and address the tension that exists between the above accounts, Christian apologists resort to reading things into the texts that neither author has said, nor inferred. Or they claim that the author of Acts simply embellished his account to make it more dramatic. Or that the differences between them is due to different perspectives, that Paul's accounts is only an abbreviated version of events and Acts is filling in the details. Baloney! It's altogether one thing to give greater details of a particular event that will correlate to another account of the same event and another thing to give conflicting details that do not correlate.
Phooey on the self-serving claims of Bible apologists. Virtually everything that Paul says from Galatians 1:15 to Galatians 2: 21 is being contradicted by Acts. To think otherwise one either has to crucify their mind, so that they may deny what is before their own eyes, or be intellectually dishonest to begin with. It boggles my mind how anyone who is assumed to be reasonably intelligent can say that there are no contradictions in the above accounts? For if they were to be given as testimonies in a court of law today, someone would be charged with perjury. How can people be so naive as to think that the proof of God's word should be held to a lower standard of proof than is required by the least of our courts?
Galatians 1:15-24 versus Acts 9:1-31
Galatians 1:15But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, 16: To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. See Context
Acts 9:3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?5: And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.6: And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.7: And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8: And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9: And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. 10: And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11: And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12: And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13: Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15: But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.17: And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18: And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19: And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.20: And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 21: But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? 22: But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. 23: And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25: Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. 26: And when Saul was come to Jerusalem,... See Context
The only way Acts 9:3-26 can be made to conform to what Paul says about his conversion in Galatians 1:15-19 is to read things into Galatians and completely dismiss what Paul says he did immediately after the revelation.
The paddy-cake account in Acts of Paul needing to learn the meaning of the revelation from Ananias is childish hokum. In saying that he did not confer with anyone after the revelation and before going away to Arabia, Paul meant exactly what he said. The generic term "flesh and blood" simply means another human being. To claim that Paul meant he didn't seek guidance or approval from others concerning his gospel is denying what Paul is literally saying. To see how modern redactors are trying to assist the claim in Acts 9 of Ananias conferring with Paul after the revelation, go here!
It is self-evident in Galatians that the revelation did not occur on the road to Damascus, but occurred in Damascus itself. For Paul clearly says that after going to Arabia he RETURNED AGAIN to Damascus. On top of that, the silly claim that Paul was sent to Damascus to bind and bring back to Jerusalem those that belonged to "The Way" is utter nonsense; Rome was not in the business of defending Judaism. And it is an absurdity to think that the Roman authorities in Damascus, SYRIA would have stood idly by while citizens under their authority were being chained and dragged off to Jerusalem.
Three conflicting accounts of Paul's conversion in Acts
Acts can't even keep its own records straight concerning Paul's conversion. The conflicting details of Paul's conversion in Acts are as befuddling as are the conflicting details in the resurrection accounts in the Gospels. This lack of harmony concerning Paul's conversion in Acts not only betrays a lack of personal knowledge of Paul, but that its author or authors were using more than one source to recount the tale of Paul's conversion.
In Acts 9: 3-19 & 22:5-16 it is claimed that Saul was made helplessly blind by the revelation and was ignorant of its meaning, that the voice in the revelation tells him to enter Damascus to learn the meaning of the revelation. And that those with him had to lead him by the hand into Damascus, where his sight is miraculously restored after being baptized by Ananias, who tells Saul the meaning of the revelation.
Yet, in Acts 26:12-20 when the revelation occurs, Saul is not made helplessly blind by it, nor is he ignorant of its meaning. In this account he doesn't have to enter Damascus to be baptized by Ananias and learn the meaning of the revelation, for its meaning is revealed to him in the revelation itself, before he even enters Damascus.
Acts 9:6... Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. See Context
Acts 22:10.... go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. See Context
Acts 26:16But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17: Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18: To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. 19: Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:20: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. See Context
Act 9:7 claims that the men who were with Saul heard the voice, whereas Acts 22:9 says they didn't hear the voice.
Acts 9:7... the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice ... See Context
Acts 22:9... but they heard not the voice... See Context
Acts 9:7 says the men that were with Saul stood speechless during the revelation, but Acts 26:14 says they had all fallen down.
Acts 9:7... the men which journeyed with him stood speechless ... See Context
Acts 26:14... we were all fallen to the earth ... See Context
(Paul Carlson: New Testament Contradictions) "Some translations of the Bible (the New International Version and the New American Standard, for example) try to remove the contradiction in Acts 22:9 by translating the phrase quoted above as "did not understand the voice..." However, the Greek word "akouo" is translated 373 times in the New Testament as "hear," "hears," "hearing" or "heard" and only in Acts 22:9 is it translated as "understand." In fact, it is the same word that is translated as "hearing" in Acts 9:7 quoted above. The word "understand" occurs 52 times in the New Testament, but only in Acts 22:9 is it translated from the Greek word "akouo."
Some might think that to be pointing out inconsistencies like whether or not the men heard the voice or not, or were standing or fallen down, is being nit-picky. I do not agree, for Acts is said to be God's word and if the simplest of details in Acts are not trustworthy, how can its more lofty claims be trusted?
In Galatians, the source of the revelation is God. Yet Acts claims that Jesus is the source of the revelation.
Galatians 1:15... when it pleased God ... See Context
Acts 9:5... I am Jesus ... See Context , also see Acts 22:8 & Acts 26:15.
To claim that Jesus is God is such an absurdity that it does not need to be examination, for only the most gullible could believe it.
Paul of Galatians and the Saul of Acts
In Galatians, Paul clearly states that he understood from the revelation that God had chosen him to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Yet after the revelation in Acts, a befuddled Saul is running from synagogue to synagogue trying to prove to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. In Acts, the Gentiles must even resort to asking Saul to come and preach to them. For it is long after leaving Damascus that he threatens to leave the synagogues and go to the Gentiles. Not because it has finally dawned on him that it is where he should have gone in the first place, but is due to a temper-tantrum, for his preaching in the synagogues is rejected by the Jews. Nevertheless, his threats are vain, for the Saul of Acts is utterly helpless when it comes to resisting the enchantment of a synagogue.
After the revelation in Galatians:
Galatians 1:16... preach him among the heathen ... See Context
Galatians 2:7... the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me ... See Context
After the revelation in Acts:
Acts 9:20... straightway he (Saul) preached Christ in the synagogues ... See Context
Acts 13:5... (Barnabas and Saul) preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews ... See Context
Acts 13:14... they (Saul and Barnabas) came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue ... See Context
Acts 13:42... when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought (Saul) that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. See Context
Acts13:46... but seeing ye (Jews) put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. See Context
Acts 14:1... (Paul and Barnabas) went both together into the synagogue of the Jews ... See Context
Jerusalem Journey # 1
In Galatians, Paul says three years after returning to Damascus (from Arabia) he went to Jerusalem to see Peter. Yet Acts claims that Saul was forced to flee from Damascus because the Jews were plotting to kill him. And he is not fleeing to Jerusalem to visit with Peter, but is fleeing to Jerusalem to try and join the disciples of the Jerusalem church. To compare what Acts says of Paul escaping from Damascus with what II Corinthians says, go here!
Galatians 1:17... I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18: Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter ... See Context
Acts 9:23... the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25: Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. 26: And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples ... See Context
In Galatians, Paul says while visiting with Peter in Jerusalem, other than James he saw none of the other apostles. Yet Acts claims that after Saul's attempt to join the Jerusalem disciples was rejected by them, Barnabas intercedes on Saul's behalf and introduces him to the apostles.
Galatians 1:19But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. See Context
Acts 9:27But Barnabas took him (Saul), and brought him to the apostles... See Context
Judaea / Jerusalem
Evidently Paul's persecution of the churches occurred somewhere other than in Judaea, for Paul says he was not personally known in the churches in Judaea, that they had only heard of him. Yet Acts claims Saul is a terror to the believers in Jerusalem, that he had personally entered their homes and dragged many off to prison. And also claims that Saul preached boldly in Jerusalem after being introduced to the apostles. But true to form, it contradicts the claim of Saul's preaching boldly in Jerusalem, for it says that when Saul entered the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus told him to leave the city immediately: "for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me".
Galatians 1:22And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:23: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. See Context
Acts 8:3As for Saul, he made havock of the church (In Jerusalem), entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
Acts 26:10 Which thing I (Saul) also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.11: And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
Acts 9:28 ... he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus ... See Context
Acts 22:18... Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. See Context
In Galatians, Paul says after visiting with Peter he simply left Jerusalem and that God was glorified in the churches of Judaea by what they had heard about him. Whereas the motif of the trouble making Saul of Acts has to be forced to escapee from Jerusalem and flea for his life, in having stirred up trouble with the Grecians. And even infers that it is only after Saul is forced out of Jerusalem, that peace was restored within the region.
Galatians 1:18...I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19: But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.20: the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. 21: Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: 23: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. 24: And they glorified God in me." See Context
Acts 9:29And he (Saul) spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30: Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. 31: Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria,... See Context
Galatians versus Acts
Part 1:Is God The Author of Confusion?
Part 2:The Jerusalem Conference and Apostolic Decree
Part 3:Sacrificing Paul's Credibility to Rescue Acts
Other writings of Wayne Lamar Harrington
In Defense of the Goodness of God
Return to:HARRINGTON SITES
Revealing the Spiritual duality of the Bible. For it serves neither God nor truth to try and rationalize irrational things the Bible has said of God.